Attaining the NCRW Certification

The following steps outline the process for attaining the NCRW certification.

Printable checklist coming soon!

Step 1: Sample Submission

1. Join the NRWA. Read about our member benefits.

2. Accumulate 10 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). (CEUs expire after 3 years, so you must earn 10 CEUs within the 3 years prior to submitting your sample. Any CEUs earned more than 3 years ago do not qualify.) There are many ways to obtain approved CEUs. Be sure to email the CEU Admin Manager to report your CEUs.

Important: Please maintain your own personal CEU file so that any recordkeeping discrepancies can be quickly resolved.

3. Download and study the NCRW Study Guide (member login required).

4. Take and pass the NCRW Study Guide Review Module (at no charge). Please note that this system has a different login than our main website. Contact for login.

5. Pay your $50 sample submission fee by registering here, or call the Administrative Manager at 877-THE-NRWA (877-843-6792) to pay by credit card over the phone.

6. Submit your sample to the CEU Admin Manager, including:

  • A self-authored resume and cover letter for review. The documents submitted must be in compliance with the NCRW Certification Study Guide and The Gregg Reference Manual, 11th Edition.
  • A justification explaining the client’s job search objectives and target industry, as well as the strategies incorporated in your documents.
  • A completed Study Guide Checklist (found at the end of the Study Guide) indicating thoroughness in the sample submission process.
  • Note: If your sample submission is from one of your clients, fictionalize it before submitting. Embellish it and make it stronger than the one of the actual client.
  • Note: Your resume, cover letter, and justification should be in Word format (save as .doc rather than .docx). Remove all hidden data and information from your documents. Research on how to remove hidden data by inspecting documents.

Note: Two graders will review your samples using the same criteria used when grading NCRW exams. Comments will be inserted directly into your Word documents. Results of your sample review will be delivered in 3-4 weeks.

Suggestions for successful sample submissions

Read your resume and cover letter submission for each one of the checklist factors (listed in the NCRW Certification Study Guide), correcting and making improvements as you go. Check each item on the checklist as you complete it.

QUESTION EVERYTHING. Mark each questionable item with a question mark and return with your Gregg Reference Manual and/or NCRW Certification Study Guide to check them all at once.

After making corrections, leave it for another day and review again. Have someone else proofread your submission, too. Sometimes we just don't see the obvious.

While this is a time-consuming process, it is likely to make you a winner!

If your samples are up to NCRW standards, you have three months to begin the review process. If your samples are not up to NCRW standards, the Certification Chairperson will recommend ways to strengthen your skills before your next sample submission.

Step 2: The NCRW Review

1. When you are ready to begin, pay the $140 review fee by registering here, or call the Administrative Manager at 877-THE-NRWA (877-843-6792) to pay by credit card over the phone.

2. Contact to schedule the two-part review.

Part One: Proofreading Review

The first part is a 1-hour timed proofreading review. You are provided with a good-looking resume that is full of errors and asked to identify 25 specific mistakes within the hour. This portion of the review is graded within 1-2 days.

Part Two: Resume and Cover Letter Writing Review

For the second part, you will be given a candidate profile and asked to write a resume and cover letter based on the profile. The documents (both resume and cover letter) must be submitted to the Certification Chair in three formats: Word, PDF, and ASCII. You will have three days to complete the project, which is handled via e-mail.

Your work will be reviewed by three graders who are not aware of the NCRW candidate’s identity. It is a pass/fail review, but you will receive the graders’ comments either way. Timeline for grading Part Two of the review is 2-3 weeks.

Failure of the NCRW Review

If you fail Part One of the review you must wait six months to retake it ($70.00 fee). If you do not pass it we strongly recommend that you take a grammar course.

If you fail Part Two of the review you must wait six months to retake it ($70.00 fee). If you fail this part a second time you must wait one year to retake ($70.00 fee).

The three graders will give you recommendations that you will need to complete before retaking the exam.

If you wait a year to retake the exam, you will have to comply with the CEU requirements.

Maintaining Certification

NCRWs are required to earn 15 CEUs every three years and maintain continuous membership with The NRWA.

Not a member? Start the certification process by joining The NRWA!

"Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. In the words of Tom Hanks, ‘If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.’ "

"A member of The NRWA for two years and a higher education career counselor for 10+ years, I had helped thousands of students with career planning and resumes. I was an exceptional counselor and resume writer… or so I thought. I had no fear and knew I would pass the NCRW review. Sadly, I was wrong. The graders’ comments were honest yet heartfelt, as I knew they wanted me to pass. 

Not one to accept failure, I called the President of The NRWA who encouraged me to reach out to the Certification Chair and members of the Certification Commission. An NCRW offered to mentor me, I attended the next conference, and took advantage of multiple training opportunities.

Certification has given me the confidence to start a small resume writing business, to accept a contract to train employment specialists at the Job Service and Montana Department of Labor, to submit my work for publication in books by industry experts, and to have more faith in my own abilities."

- Cheryl Minnick, NCRW

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